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    Description

    Outstanding Portrait

    BITHYNIAN KINGDOM. Prusias I (228-180 BC). AR tetradrachm (33mm, 16/80 gm, 12h).  Diademed head of Prusias right / ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΠΡΟΥΣΙΟΥ, Zeus Stephanophoros standing left; to inner left, eagle standing left on thunderbolt above ME ligate and monogram. Waddington 9b. Jameson 1387. SNG von Aulock 6878. A simply extraordinary Hellenistic portrait, struck in sculptural high relief on a broad, round flan. NGC AU 5/5 - 3/5, Fine Style.

    From The California Collection. Ex ROMA Numismatics V (London, 29 September 2013), lot 664.

    Even before the Wars of Diadochi had concluded, the region of Bithynia in Asia Minor along the southern coast of the Black Sea had declared its independence from the vast realms ruled by Alexander's successors. Bithynia's kings were part of a native dynasty descended from two Thracian tribes that occupied the region centuries earlier, with admixture of royal Persian blood. Of the early dynasts, Zipoetres, Nicomedes I, and Ziaelas, we know comparatively little, except their evident love for war and plunder. Prusias I, the fourth independent king of Bithynia, was celebrated for his love of Greek culture and his ability to maintain his kingdom's power and prosperity during a time of turmoil in the Hellenistic world. He successfully conducted wars against the Galatians and the Attalid Kingdom of Pergamum, the latter with the help of the great Carthaginian General Hannibal. However, after first granting Hannibal refuge, Prusias was forced to give him up to the Romans, who demanded his surrender; Hannibal took poison in response. The portrait coins of Prusias are among the finest of the Hellenistic series, depicting him with a luxuriant set of chin-whiskers and a self-satisfied smirk.


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